Court rules ex-NHIF boss Kerich has case to answer in Sh116m graft case

In Summary

• In the submission, the Director of Public Prosecutions had asked the trial court to find the accused persons with a case to answer for the several graft charges they face.

• They were charged in connection to the provision of a medical scheme for civil servants and disciplined services awarded to Meridian Medical Centre ltd at a cost of Sh116.9 million.

NHIF Building.
NHIF Building.
Image: NHIF

A Nairobi court has ruled that former National Hospital Insurance Fund  CEO Richard Kerich and four others charged with defrauding the institution of Sh116.9 million have a case to answer.

Anti-Corruption court chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi on Thursday ruled that the prosecution has established a prima facie case against Kerich and his co-accused person Meridian Medical Centre directors Peter Ngunjiri Wambugu and Ndiba Wairioko, Marwa Fadhili Chacha, a former manager for strategy and cooperate planning, David Chingi, a former assistant manager, benefits and quality assurance at NHIF.

In the judgement, the magistrate noted that the evidence tabled before the court through prosecution witnesses is strong against all the accused persons in regard to participation to the conspiracy to defraud NHIF of more than Sh116 million.

"As already indicated, a prima facie case has been established in respect of all the other counts and the accused are thus put on their defence," the magistrate ruled.

In the submission, the Director of Public Prosecutions had asked the trial court to find the accused persons with a case to answer for the several graft charges they face.

They were charged in connection to the provision of a medical scheme for civil servants and disciplined services awarded to Meridian Medical Centre ltd at a cost of Sh116.9 million.

The former NHIF officials are accused of entering a deal with Meridian Medical Centre Limited for the provision of medical services under the civil services and disciplined forces scheme, when they were aware that Meridian had no capacity to provide such services.

Kerich, Chacha and Chingi are also accused of abuse of office, failing to comply with procurement laws and conferring a benefit of Sh43 million to Meridian, offences they allegedly committed December 21, 2011 and February 8, 2012.

Meridian was among 173 facilities that responded to an advertisement by NHIF calling for proposal for provision of outpatient services to civil servants.

The cover, known as Mzalendo, shortlisted 10 branches belonging to Meridian.

The scheme was to start running from January 2012.

The court, however acquitted Chacha on one count of failing to comply with the laws relating to procurement, saying his involvement in the process came later after the procurement had been done.

“The involvement of the second accused (Chacha) only came later on, that is, post the fact of selection of the sixth accused (Meridian) as a medical service provider and contracting. On the failure to with the law relating to public procurement,” Magistrate Mugambi ruled

The court further said no evidence was led to demonstrate that Chacha played part in the process that resulted in the selection of the hospital as a service provider under the civil servants and disciplined services medical scheme.